The midsection is an especially difficult area to restore with diet and exercise alone, especially the following pregnancy in women, after bariatric surgery, or in aging individuals. While many patients are familiar with tummy tuck surgery (abdominoplasty) that addresses the skin from below the breasts or pectorals to the hips, fewer are familiar with surgery that treats loose skin of one’s back. Back lift surgery performed by Kristin A. Boehm, M.D., FACS of Premier Image Cosmetic & Laser Surgery of Atlanta, GA can restore the contour of the back of the midsection by eliminating stubborn back fat and extra skin.
How the Appearance of the Back Changes over Time
As people gain weight in their midsection, not only is the abdomen affected, but the size and shape of the back are impacted as well. Women may notice that they have to purchase larger sizes of bathing suit tops, bras, and other clothing to accommodate a larger back circumference and to avoid bulging skin. Men may also find that they have to purchase bigger undershirts and clothing.
The look of a bulky midsection detracts from the overall contours of the body because it is central to its shape. There are several factors that can prevent this region from improving naturally, and in many cases, cosmetic surgery may be the best solution to treat cosmetic issues of the back. Exercise addresses a number of medical and physical concerns and can positively impact fat volume and muscle tone, but there is no way to resolve stretched-out skin with diet and exercise.
When a Back Lift is the Best Solution
Men and women who lead a healthy lifestyle and have lost weight elsewhere often find that the midsection is especially resistant to change. People struggling with this issue may be excellent candidates for back lift surgery. The procedure is performed to remove excess fat and loose skin that has accumulated in the area over time and remains even as other areas of the body become slimmer. The procedure is often referred to as the “bra-line back lift” because this is where the scars can be hidden in women.
Pregnancy and other hormonal changes may cause extra bulk to accumulate in the midsection, which includes both the abdomen and the back. Often, the fat in these areas is especially stubborn, and skin may be loose due to repeated dieting, which causes people to gain and lose weight frequently. Other patients may have addressed weight loss through surgery, causing them to lose a large amount of weight over a short period of time to better their health. In such cases, loose skin often remains and must be surgically excised from the body. Another reason patients may seek surgical intervention to correct loose skin is due to aging and sun damage. As we get older, our skin becomes less resilient due to the breakdown of important proteins. Coupled with years of UVA and UVB rays penetrating the skin can further damage these important cells that make up the skin. While a tanned back may be desirable during youth, the effects in adulthood can cause premature aging and sagging skin. In any case, fatty deposits can collect under the skin, and excess tissue hangs loosely leading to poor definition and contour.
Back lift surgery is performed under general anesthesia as an outpatient procedure. The surgery typically takes about one hour. Female patients who undergo the surgery are asked to wear a proper-fitting bra or bikini top to the surgical appointment so the doctor can conceal the incisions under these garments. From a standing position, the patient is marked with a pre-surgical outline that helps guide the doctor’s incisions during the back lift. These marks are created around the garment to ensure the best and most discreet incision placement possible.
Horizontal cuts are created in the skin and span the width of the back. Then, extra skin is cut away so the two sides can be sewn together, eliminating back rolls. Dr. Boehm is careful to remove enough tissue that there are visible improvements to the back without restricting movements by eliminating too much tissue. In select cases, liposuction may also be performed while the doctor has access to underlying tissues. During the surgical consult, Dr. Boehm can go over her intended surgical approach, explaining how she will achieve a patient’s aesthetic goals during the procedure. At the conclusion of the surgery, the incisions will be closed with sutures.
Some patients are satisfied with the remainder of their figure and only seek to correct the mid-back. In post-bariatric surgery patients or those who have undergone an extreme weight loss, it is more likely that they will require additional lifting procedures to improve their overall body contours and aesthetics. A back lift may be combined with other surgeries of the midsection, like a tummy tuck or breast lift, as well as skin and fat removal procedures that contour the extremities, like a butt lift, thigh lift, and/or arm lift. Some surgeries can be combined into a single session whereas others may require another appointment to complete for patient safety.
Other Methods for Body Contouring
While lifting procedures eliminate extra skin and tissue from the body, there are other minimally invasive or non-invasive treatments that can be performed alone or alongside surgeries like a back lift.
InMode Body Tite utilizes RFAL – radiofrequency-assisted liposuction – to melt away body fat and tighten the skin. This may be more ideal for mild to moderate cases of skin laxity and fat deposits, as more severe sagging typically requires surgical lifting.
Another popular treatment for patients is the fat transfer. Autologous fat injections created from the patient’s own fat can plump areas of the face and body that have lost volume and may display some skin laxity.
The Benefits of Back Lift
While back lift surgery will create some area swelling, results are noticeable immediately after surgery, instantly slimming the upper body. During the healing process, clothes will fit better and the patient will notice that the preferred contours of the body have been restored. In women, this tends to be an hourglass shape while men usually prefer a broader upper back that tapers down to their waist. By eliminating unwanted tissue, patients are also relieved of the physical discomfort caused by bulging skin and fat. Back lift surgery can successfully smooth out the skin on the upper, middle, and lower back whereas surgeries of the front side of the torso require various procedures, like a tummy tuck coupled with a breast lift. Results are better-proportioned contours and slimming of the entire back. Barring serious weight gain and loss after the procedure, the results of back lift are permanent. Feeling trimmer and slimmer can be a huge factor in regaining self-confidence. The doctor takes great satisfaction in being able to provide services that can enhance one’s body image like the bra line back lift.
The Recovery Process
Patients can return home after the procedure and should have the assistance of a caregiver for at least the first day. Patients are up and walking within a few hours after surgery, though they are asked to reduce activity for 2 to 3 weeks. Following this time, they can increase their activity levels if they are not feeling excessive tightness or discomfort. As with many body procedures, swelling, numbness, and bruising may occur but should resolve once the area heals. Women should not wear a bra or other supportive upper body garments unless directed to but can wear an approved flexible bra within a few weeks.
Back Lift FAQs
Why undergo back lift?
The first area of the body patients notice loose skin tends to be the front side of the body, especially following serious weight loss. After examining the changes, patients often find that their back displays similar issues. In the same way other areas of the body are affected by gravity, the skin on the back also tends to sag with age. Back lift surgery improves both men’s and women’s silhouettes.
Is back lift surgery right for me?
The surgery can be an ideal solution for those who notice persistent back fat and loose skin that is resistant to weight loss and toning techniques. Generally, a back lift can improve areas from the shoulders to the love handles. Other areas of the torso that may be affected by rolls of loose skin and fat are best addressed through other procedures, like a breast lift or tummy tuck surgery. Patients of the procedure should be healthy – both physically and mentally – and have realistic expectations for the changes the surgery can provide.
What is back lift recovery like?
Dr. Boehm may or may not require patients to wear a compression garment or support device depending on their individual anatomy and post-surgical needs. Patients can return home shortly following surgery and may be fatigued for the first day or two. Physical activity will be limited, though patients should get up and walk around to avoid certain complications. Pain medication, loose-fitting clothing, and lying on the side or stomach can all help control swelling and discomfort. It will be about a week before patients can return to work and another 1-2 weeks until they can perform more activities. The doctor will advise when patients can return to their regular physical activities.
Will scarring be obvious?
While some scarring is part of any surgical procedure, Dr. Boehm is careful to create incisions that can be cleverly hidden under a bra or bathing suit top. While men’s garments don’t provide these camouflages, there are other measures to lessen the look of the long, linear scar. Scar revision surgery, laser skin resurfacing, and even procedures like microneedling can improve the appearance of a back lift scar. Topical treatments like silicone sheets can be utilized during early healing to minimize scarring. Many patients find that the scars from a back lift are preferable to the loose skin and excess tissue that prompted the surgery.
How long has back lift been performed?
The innovative treatment is relatively new to the field of plastic surgery. Back lift surgery was pioneered less than 20 years ago. From that time, thousands of patients have enjoyed the results of this skin-eliminating treatment designed to reshape the back.
How can I prepare to undergo back lift surgery?
Patients should ensure they have a clean recovery area, ready-made meals, and all their prescription pain medications filled prior to undergoing the surgery. A number of medications should be discontinued prior to the procedure, including certain over-the-counter and prescription medications, vitamins, and supplements. Women should choose the bra or bathing suit top that fits them well so the doctor can create incisions that will be concealed. Patients should also plan to have a family member or friend drive them home following surgery and available for at least the first day following the surgery.
Dr. Kristin Boehm – Premier Image Cosmetic & Laser Surgery
Kristin A. Boehm, M.D., FACS, is a plastic surgeon in Atlanta certified by both the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Surgery. She is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the Southeastern Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, and the American College of Surgeons. She is a member of the Emerging Trends Committee with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, which looks into new and innovative technologies. She has served as a key opinion leader on facial injectables and tissue adhesives and has been an advisory board member for a dermal filler company. Dr. Boehm performs a full array of breast, and body contouring surgeries with a focus on aesthetic enhancement and rejuvenation.
Contact Premier Image at 770-457-6303 to schedule your private consultation with Dr. Kristin Boehm in Atlanta.